Supermarkets embrace Veganuary with major plant-based NPD drive
The supermarkets are flooding the market with vegan food this month as the trend for shunning meat and dairy in January continues to soar in popularity.
Not-for-profit organisation Veganuary encourages people across the world to eat an exclusively plant-based diet for the first 31 days of each year.
More than a quarter of a million people took the pledge last year, with more than 370,000 signed up by 10th January this year.
Keen to capitalise, Waitrose this month announced it was adding 30 own-label vegan products to take its total range to 120 items.
Among the additions are Vegan No Egg Fried Rice, Crisp-Crumbed Fishless Goujons made from banana blossom and a No Chicken Samosa featuring soya mince.
Simona Cohen-Vida-Welsh, vegan developer at Waitrose & Partners, said: “Last year, we saw veganism and plant-based diets making their way further into the mainstream and we see no signs of this slowing down.”
Co-op launched its vegan Gro brand at 6,000 stores this month, after estimating the market for non-meat food at more than £1 billion.
Gro features more than 35 meat-free products and will be stocked in 2,000 Co-op stores as well as up to 4,000 independent retailers through the brand’s wholesale operation Nisa.
Products in the range include a vegan steak bake, a Kashmiri pizza featuring cauliflower and a mozzarella-style vegan cheese.
Jo Whitfield, chief executive of Co-op Food, said: “We have to provide fantastic products and services with strong ethics and a purposeful focus on convenience. Our new vegan range taps into the latest consumer trends.”
Aldi also advertised its own raft of new plant-based items this month.
These include Loma Linda Fishless Tuno; Plant Menu Vegan Sausage Roll; and Limited Edition Eat & Go Korean BBQ Style Chick’n Sandwich.
Not to be left out, M&S unveiled a new Plant Kitchen range with 50 lines, including sandwiches, quick-fix suppers and a no-beef burger.
Kate Forbes, owner of Somerset’s Trading Post Farm Shop, insisted the intense supermarket focus on Veganuary would not harm independents offering plant-based food.
“Veganism tends to be about the ethics of where food is coming from so the perception would be that farm shops are going to know that,” she said. “I have met most of our suppliers or speak to them regularly on the phone. You don’t get that in a supermarket.”
Vegan Society spokeswoman Dominika Piasecka said: “Plant based food is not exclusively for vegans; it’s suitable for most diets and religions, and often constitutes a safe food option for all, making clear commercial sense.”
This story appeared in the January/February issue of Fine Food Digest. You can read more on the digital edition here.
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